Levi leaves for Japan


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Otago and Highlanders tight-loose forward Filipo Levi is heading to Japan after the Rebel Sport Super 14. Levi, 27, has taken up a two-year contract with the Ricoh club.

‘I was given an opportunity that was too good to turn down,’ he said. ‘I’ve loved every minute of my rugby in Dunedin, whether it was with Otago or the Highlanders and I’ll certainly miss it.’

Otago Rugby Football Union chief executive Russell Gray said Levi goes with his blessing and understanding, but it was yet another example of the increasing difficulty in New Zealand of retaining top quality players. ‘It’s by no means unique to Otago or the Highlanders,’ he said. ‘It’s an issue for all of New Zealand rugby.’

Levi has played 70 games for Otago since 2000 and 66 for the Highlanders since 2002. He has also played test rugby for the Pacific Islands and will be available for the Samoan squad for this year’s World Cup.

Other Highlanders Anton Oliver, Carl Hayman and Josh Blackie are also heading overseas.

Their final game will be against the Brumbies at Carisbrook on Saturday.

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